The use of dietary supplements among soccer referees: How much do they know?


  • Marco Malaguti University of Bologna, Italy
  • Michele Scarpino San Marino Football Federation, San Marino
  • Cristina Angeloni University of Camerino, Italy
  • Silvana Hrelia University of Bologna, Italy



Dietary supplements, Soccer, Football, Referee


Referees are essential for the correct execution of each soccer match and national soccer associations support them with physical training guidelines in order to improve agility, aerobic and sprint capacity, to reduce the risk of injury and to meet the minimum required performance levels. Despite the importance given to performance skills no specific nutritional guideline is provided to support the performance required. This study was aimed to investigate soccer field and assistant referees knowledge and consumption of dietary supplements. Seventy-one European referees participated to this survey by filling a short and quick anonymous questionnaire designed to collect information about their refereeing category, educational level, frequency of supplement consumption, type of supplement consumed. Moreover, a sub-group of 20 participants wore a training watch to record energy expenditure, distance, and heart rate during training sessions and matches. Our data show that referees frequently consume supplements especially those refereeing in lower categories, moreover they often follow a friend’s suggestion when deciding to take a supplement instead of trusting a professional prescription. According to our survey, national and international soccer federations should care more about their referee nutritional education.


Download data is not yet available.


Al Sayed, C., Vinches, L., & Hallé, S. (2017). Validation of a Wearable Biometric System's Ability to Monitor Heart Rate in Two Different Climate Conditions under Variable Physical Activities. E-Health Telecommunication Systems and Networks, 6, 19-30.

Anderson, L., Orme, P., Naughton, R. J., Close, G. L., Milsom, J., Rydings, D., . . . Morton, J. P. (2017). Energy Intake and Expenditure of Professional Soccer Players of the English Premier League: Evidence of Carbohydrate Periodization. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 27(3), 228-238.

Casajus, J. A., & Castagna, C. (2007). Aerobic fitness and field test performance in elite Spanish soccer referees of different ages. J Sci Med Sport, 10(6), 382-389.

Castagna, C., Abt, G., & D'Ottavio, S. (2007). Physiological aspects of soccer refereeing performance and training. Sports Med, 37(7), 625-646.

Castagna, C., Bendiksen, M., Impellizzeri, F. M., & Krustrup, P. (2012). Reliability, sensitivity and validity of the assistant referee intermittent endurance test (ARIET) - a modified Yo-Yo IE2 test for elite soccer assistant referees. J Sports Sci, 30(8), 767-775.

D'Ottavio, S., & Castagna, C. (2002). Physiological aspects of soccer refereeing. London: Routledge.

FIFA-communication-division. (2007). FIFA big count 2006: 270 milion people active in football.

FIFA. (2006). Special needs of the referees. Retrieved from

FIFA. (2016). FIFA fitness test for referees and assistant referees. Regulations on the Organisation of Refereeing in FIFA Member Associations. Retrieved from

FIFA. (2017). FIFA. Laws of the Game. Retrieved from

Gabrilo, G., Ostojic, M., Idrizovic, K., Novosel, B., & Sekulic, D. (2013). A retrospective survey on injuries in Croatian football/soccer referees. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 14, 88.

MacMahon, C., Helsen, W. F., Starkes, J. L., & Weston, M. (2007). Decision-making skills and deliberate practice in elite association football referees. J Sports Sci, 25(1), 65-78.

Malaguti, M., Angeloni, C., & Hrelia, S. (2013). Polyphenols in exercise performance and prevention of exercise-induced muscle damage. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2013, 825928.

Mendez-Villanueva, A., & Buchheit, M. (2013). Football-specific fitness testing: adding value or confirming the evidence? J Sports Sci, 31(13), 1503-1508.

Pobiruchin, M., Suleder, J., Zowalla, R., & Wiesner, M. (2017). Accuracy and Adoption of Wearable Technology Used by Active Citizens: A Marathon Event Field Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth, 5(2), e24.

Schenk, K., Bizzini, M., & Gatterer, H. (2018). Exercise physiology and nutritional perspectives of elite soccer refereeing. Scand J Med Sci Sports, 28(3), 782-793.

Teixeira, V. H., Goncalves, L., Meneses, T., & Moreira, P. (2014). Nutritional intake of elite football referees. J Sports Sci, 32(13), 1279-1285.

Weston, M., Drust, B., Atkinson, G., & Gregson, W. (2011). Variability of soccer referees' match performances. Int J Sports Med, 32(3), 190-194.

Weston, M., Helsen, W., MacMahon, C., & Kirkendall, D. (2004). The impact of specific high-intensity training sessions on football referees' fitness levels. Am J Sports Med, 32(1 Suppl), 54S-61S.

Wiens, K., Erdman, K. A., Stadnyk, M., & Parnell, J. A. (2014). Dietary supplement usage, motivation, and education in young, Canadian athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 24(6), 613-622.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Malaguti, M., Scarpino, M., Angeloni, C., & Hrelia, S. (2019). The use of dietary supplements among soccer referees: How much do they know?. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 14(4), 856–865.



Sport Medicine, Nutrition & Health

Most read articles by the same author(s)